Everything you Need to Know about Bangka-Belitung

Bangka-Belitung is a province in Indonesia that is made up of islands. The province is named after its two main islands: Bangka and Belitung. The other islands are smaller and can be found east of the Sumatran mainland and northeast of the province of South Sumatra. The islands of Bangka-Belitung are flanked by the South China Sea in the north and the Java Sea to the south. In the east, the province is separated from Borneo by the Karimata Strait. The Bangka Strait separates Bangka from Sumatra, while the Gaspar Strait separates Bangka and Belitung.

Bangka-Belitung used to be a part of South Sumatra. In 2000, it became a separate province just like Banten and Gorontalo. The province, which has a population of more than one million people, has Pangkal Pinang as its capital. Pangkal Pinang is the only city in the province; the rest are regencies. Bangka-Belitung consists of six regencies, which include Bangka, West Bangka, South Bangka, Central Bangka, Belitung and East Belitung.

Bangka-Belitung is best known as the largest producer of tin in the country, as well as a major source of white pepper. It is also quite famous for its beautiful beaches.

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Bangka-Belitung Attractions

Since Bangka-Belitung has plenty of attractive beaches, it should not be a surprise that most of its attractions are seaside ones. Most people who visit the islands go there to swim, sunbathe and to enjoy the wonderful views.

Matras Beach is considered as the best beach on Bangka Island. It is located in Sinar Baru Village in the Sungailiat District. Also known as Heaven Beach, this attraction draws a lot of visitors because of its white sand and the surrounding coconut trees. Another Bangka Beach worth visiting is the Parai Tenggiri Beach. Also found in Sungailiat District, those who want to drop by this attraction will love the luxury hotels and water sports facilities in the area.

Other interesting attractions in Bangka include the Tanjung Kelian Old Lighthouse and the Pemali Hot Springs.

Just like Bangka, Belitung has beaches to be proud of. One of them is Tanjung Tinggi, which is 30km away from the island capital of Tanjung Pandan. It has clear blue waters and fine white sand, and it is a good place for swimming, surfing, as well as fishing.

Bangka-Belitung Restaurants & Dining

There are many dining establishments to choose from and the selection of dining choices available in Bangka-Belitung would satisfy any hungry traveller. In the city of Pangkal Pinang, seafood lovers can head out to Kampung Bintang Seafood Restaurant in Bintang Dalam subdistrict or Asui Seafood Restaurant in Bintang Street. Other good restaurants in the area include Jaguar Music Restaurant, Asoi Restaurant, Ali Bersaudara Restaurant and Begadang Raya Restaurant.

Tanjung Pandan in Belitung also has several dining destinations in store for tourists. In Jend Sudirman Street alone there are two great places to eat: Tanjung Restaurant and Simpang Raya Restaurant. Other must-try restaurants found in the capital are Citra Restoran in Sriwijaya Street, Welas Asih Restaurant in Veteran Street, Yurnalis Restaurant in Gegedek Street, and Ibu Atom Restaurant in Gaparman Street.

Sungailiat District, where some of the province's best beaches are found, is also home to some good eateries. These are Nirwana Cafe and Restaurant, Anugerah Restaurant, Gumarang Restaurant and Tio Ciu Restaurant, just to name a few.

Bangka-Belitung Nightlife

Bangka-Belitung is full of life during the day. People flock to the beautiful beaches even before the sun is up so they can enjoy the breathtaking landscape for a longer time and take part in many kinds of activities: swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling, kayaking, beach volleyball and the like.

Nightlife in the province is not particularly lively, mainly because night-time activities in Bangka-Belitung are limited. Most establishments close early, making the island very quiet at night. Only the bars and clubs in the hotels found in the area can be considered as nightlife spots. For instance, Hotel Novotel has Le Bar: a place that serves wines, cocktails and other international beverages. However, it is a fact that hotel establishments are quite pricey, and there are not a lot of inexpensive alternatives. The only other thing that defines nightlife in Bangka-Belitung is karaoke.

Bangka-Belitung Shopping

Bangka-Belitung is a beach lover's paradise, but not a shopper's Mecca. However, this does not mean that visitors will not be able to enjoy a shopping trip (or two) on the island. The biggest tin mines in Indonesia are found in the province, so visitors can expect to see countless tin products for sale in the area.

In Bangka, one of the best things to buy is unique Bahar crafts. The bahar root is a kind of seaweed that craftsmen transform into different kinds of products such as cigarette pipes, bracelets and rings. These products make for very nice souvenirs. White pepper may not be a common souvenir, but this is one of the best items to purchase when in Bangka. This kind of pepper, which has been around since the Dutch occupation, is one of the best commodities to come out of Indonesia.

Bangka-Belitung may not have major shopping malls, but they have a lot of souvenir and art shops. Establishments that interested tourists should visit include LCK Shop (Jend. Sudirman Street), Kain Cual Ishadi (Jend. A. Yani Street), Santi (Masjid Jamik Street) and Perajin Renda Martina (Yos Sudarso Street ).

Bangka-Belitung Activities

In a place like Bangka-Belitung, it should not be surprising to know that all activities in this province are related to water. Obviously, water sports is a given; the turquoise water of each and every beach is the perfect invitation. Swimming is on top of the list of to-do activities in Bangka-Belitung, but there are other interesting and equally fun things to do and these include snorkelling, diving, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and surfing.

People can also fish in the area. The clear waters may seem ideal for plenty of great summer activities, but it must not be forgotten that these are also a source of fresh seafood.

Those who prefer to stay dry can opt to just sunbathe on the shore or enjoy a game or two of beach volleyball.

Bangka-Belitung Information

Bangka-Belitung can be reached by plane and by ferry. Both Bangka and Belitung are connected to the rest of the country through Pangkal Pinang and Tanjung Pandan respectively. There are many flights to Jakarta, and selected ones to Palembang (through Sriwijaya Air) and Batam (through Riau Airlines).

Those who wish to travel by sea can choose between a slow journey or a fast trip: overnight ferries take 11 hours, while Bahari Express hydrofoils take only three hours to travel from Palembang to Mentok (western Bangka). Meanwhile, the giant ferries of PELNI take a trip to the island about once every fortnight; it can run either from Jakarta to Bangka or Jakarta to Belitung.

When it comes to getting around the island, local transportation is available. However, renting a car or motorcycle is recommended.

The best time to go to Bangka-Belitung is during the months of February and March, as well as October and November. These months are ideal for enjoying the beaches because the wind and the waves are low during this time.

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